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Keystone Resort Gets ‘Back To The Grind’

Kicking off the competition on the flat-down box. P: Tucker Burton/Keystone Resort

Welcome back to winter, ladies and gents! Keystone Resort has dusted off the gondola and is officially open for another round. With a healthy amount of snow, a solid set of features, and a crowd of stoked early-season shreds, Keystone Resort welcomed riders back to the slopes, holding the second event of its A51 River Run Rail Series: Back to the Grind.

The first jam of the series, The Backyard BBQ Rail Session, closed out the summer in style, with Keystone’s dedicated park crew sweating it out in the September sunshine to turn 15 tons of ice chip into a full-on rail jam. Thankfully for the crew, mother nature did most of the work for round two; ‘Back to the Grind’ went off in conjunction with the resort’s opening weekend, giving riders a chance to battle it out for early season bragging rights. Keeping in step with the success of the Backyard BBQ Rail Session, the men’s snowboarding roster was once again sold-out.

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The sun setting over the base of River Run as the crowd assembles

While September’s session saw a plethora of frat tanks and sunburns, this round was a much more fitting temperature; so much so, in fact, that the intended format of three 15-minutes heats was abandoned in favor of a 30 minute, all-in jam session. The entire field of competitors—skiers and snowboarders alike— rallied to the rails in an effort to take home a cash purse and earn free entry into next year’s Backyard BBQ Rail Session. Luke McAdams and Adam Stromwall repeated their roles as judge and jury, while MC Joshua Stock kept the mic busy and the masses entertained.

Judges Luke McAdams, Adam Stromwall and friends taking notes and making bets.

A prime set up consisting of a flat-down box, down rail, and double kink rail played host to the madness, while the crowd got stoked on a whole lot of Red Bull and a whole lot of riding. Joe Mango dominated the mens snowboarding, taking first place alongside ripper Emily Blewitt. Jeff DeForge ended the jam with a not-so-shabby second place finish, with Erika Vikander holding down the silver spot for the ladies.

In addition to amping up Keystone’s opening weekend, ‘Back to the Grind’ was also a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the resort’s A51 terrain park, which boasts over 100 features, 25 of which are already open. This impressive early season offering makes A51 the largest terrain park currently open in the United States.

Round three of the A51 River Run Rail Series is set to go down on April 6, 2013, a proper send-off to the season.